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NWTC Engineer Wins Prestigious International Electrotechnical Commission Award

April 5, 2016

Jeroen van Dam is proving that a single person can have a global impact. A principal engineer at the National Wind Technology Center (NWTC) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, van Dam recently received the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 1906 award. This honor is bestowed on technical experts whose exceptional involvement in IEC activities has brought about significant advancements in international electrotechnical standardization. Since the award’s inception in 2004, three current NWTC experts have received it: Derek Berry, Arlinda Huskey, and Paul Veers.

van Dam was honored for his work on the conformity assessment scheme for wind energy and for establishing the credibility and interlaboratory trust needed to engage a very competitive sector of the wind industry, thereby setting the stage for broad international participation in the IEC renewable energy scheme. “The IEC renewable energy scheme is very valuable, as it has brought together all industry stakeholders, most notably the end users. They need to make sure that they get value out of the certification process for it to have meaning,” said van Dam.

His first experience with IEC standards began around 1998, and he has worked on several testing and design-related standards since then. In 2015, van Dam became the chairman of IEC TC88, the technical committee responsible for writing the international standards for wind energy. According to van Dam, the need for standardization is paramount. “Standards allow us to reduce uncertainty in the market, which in turn lowers the cost of energy. We can do that by setting appropriate levels of safety and by defining test methods that provide high-quality, reproducible test results.”

Ultimately, creating standards means encouraging different groups—and sometimes even direct competitors—from around the world to join forces to achieve a common goal. “As part of this work, we were able to bring together most of the accredited wind energy testing laboratories worldwide—the first time we had a forum for all of them to get together and discuss issues. And we were able to establish a positive, constructive atmosphere,” said van Dam.

A leading organization in preparing and publishing international standards for all electrical, electronic, and related technologies, the IEC comprises approximately 20,000 experts from industry, commerce, government, test and research labs, academia, and consumer groups.

—Kelly Yaker